Campaign donations returns (candidates and groups)

This information is for groups and candidates, including Members of Parliament  seeking re-election.

For more information, refer to Part 13A of the Electoral Act 1985 External link.

Reporting gifts and loans

Candidates and groups of candidates must lodge campaign donations returns to report gifts and loans.

If you are a member of a group, in addition to the group campaign donations returns, you must also lodge candidate campaign donations returns to report gifts and loans received by you as an individual candidate. However, please note that a gift or loan made to a member of a group is taken to be a gift or loan to the group if it was made for the benefit of all members of the group (section 130A(5)(a)).

The agent is responsible for lodging campaign donations returns.

Gifts

Gifts of more than $5,000 (indexed) received during the disclosure period must be reported to the Electoral Commissioner.

See our Glossary page for the definition of a gift.

Two or more gifts with an amount or value of more than $200 received from the same person during the disclosure period will be treated as one gift (section 130ZF(5)(d)).

Loans

Loans of more than $5,000 (indexed) received during the disclosure period must be reported to the Electoral Commissioner.

Two or more loans of more than $1,000 received from the same person during the disclosure period will be treated as one loan (section 130ZF(5)(d)).

Disclosure period

The disclosure period for each election is different for each type of candidate. Refer to section 130ZF(5)(a) for more information.

Not a new candidate

If you are not a new candidate, your disclosure period starts 30 days after the last election for which you were a candidate and ends 30 days after polling day. Your first disclosure period starts on 1 July 2015, when Part 13A came into effect.

New candidate

If you are a new candidate, your disclosure period starts either on the day you announce your intention to be a candidate for the election, or on the day you nominate to be a candidate (whichever is earlier). It ends 30 days after polling day.

Group

If you are a group of candidates, your disclosure period starts on the day on which you applied under section 58 to have your names grouped together on the ballot paper. It ends 30 days after polling day.

Lodging returns

The first campaign donations return must be lodged within 30 days of the start of the designated period. The second return is due within 5 days of the end of the period commencing from the start of the designated period and ending 30 days after the start of the designated period. Following this are the high-frequency lodgements: returns must be lodged for every 7 day period until 30 days after polling day. You must lodge these returns within 5 days of the end of each 7 day period.

Refer to section 130ZF(5)(c) for more information.

The Electoral Commissioner will provide return lodgement schedules and return forms for candidates and groups to complete to fulfil their reporting obligations.

Information required

Returns must set out details of gifts and loans of more than $5,000 (indexed) received by a candidate or group during the disclosure period. The details which must be provided include:

  • Amount or value of the gift or loan.
  • Date received.
  • Name and address of person or entity who made the gift or loan.

Prescribed particulars

Regulation 22 of the Electoral Regulations 2009 prescribes additional details which are required to be provided in the case of a gift or loan received from a trust, company or an association. You must provide the names of all trustees, members of the board or executive committee.  For body corporate donors, you have the additional obligation to provide the names of any related bodies corporate. For more information, please refer to our Prescribed Particulars Guide on our Guides page.

Audit certificates

You are required to provide an audit certificate for every return lodged with the Electoral Commissioner (section 130ZV).

For campaign donations returns relating to the designated period of an election, you are only required to lodge 2 ‘bulk’ audit certificates:

  • The first audit certificate must be lodged 7 days before polling day to cover all returns lodged up to that date.
  • The second audit certificate will cover all the remaining campaign donations returns. The second audit certificate must be lodged on the day the last campaign donations return is due.

You may apply for a waiver of the requirement to provide an audit certificate if:

  • The return is a nil return.
  • The costs of compliance with the audit certificate requirement would be unreasonable.

Offences

Failing to lodge a return within the legislated timeframe is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $5,000.

Lodging a return which a person knows is false or misleading in a material particular is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $10,000.

For more information, refer to section 130ZZE.

Record keeping

In addition to your return lodgement obligations, you are also required to maintain certain records. Visit our Records and evidence page for more information.